Southern’s administration sent an email to Human Engagement Director Melissa Moore stating international mission trips are canceled indefinitely.
According to Moore, administration’s biggest concern was the safety of the students and employee sponsors due to COVID-19.
In a previous Accent article published on Jan. 26, the Evangelistic Resource Center (ERC) and Humanitarian Engagement were prepared for mission and vision trips for the summer. ERC’s mission locations included Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Kenya and New Jersey. ERC Director Raul Rivero said the New Jersey trip was canceled in January due to the state’s high rate of coronavirus deaths.
With the cancelation of overseas mission trips, ERC will only be offering mission trips to theology students taking the public evangelism class. There will be about 16 theology students who will head to the Dominican Republic to run several evangelistic meetings in mid-May and about 16 students working in North Carolina from July through August.
“I think administration made the right decision to cancel the trips this summer since we are in the midst of a pandemic,” Rivero said. “We are going through great lengths to secure the most safe way for our students to go.”
Rivero hopes to have two trips toward the end of summer. He said he surveyed student interest in the trips and plans to present the information to administration for approval.
Moore said she was disappointed by the cancelation of the Humanitarian Engagement office’s vision trips to Peru and North Africa.
“We are disappointed that we will not have international mission trips this year,” Moore said. “But we respect that there are many unknown factors that have caused the university, parents [and] students, to be cautious.”
There is one mission trip still planned for Atlanta in May. Originally, there were two domestic trips: one to Chattanooga and one to Atlanta. However, there are only enough students to fill the Atlanta trip, according to Moore.
Vision trips will be postponed to either Thanksgiving and Christmas break, or the following spring. All funds solicited as donations can be applied to future mission trips. Any funds that were not paid as a donation can be refunded.
Moore said the Human Engagement office has already started refunding all application fees and will be working diligently over the summer to prepare trips for the approval process.
“We will start marketing those opportunities as soon as they are officially approved by administration,” Moore said.
Moore encourages students and employees to continue to serve in their communities.
“We hope that although students may not be able to join a mission trip this year, they find other ways to serve as Jesus’ hands and feet,” Moore said.